New Two-Section Buses To Travel Between New Britain, Hartford
March 1, 2007
By GARY LIBOW, Courant Staff Writer
NEW BRITAIN -- An odd-looking bus with two sections and an accordion center turned heads Wednesday during a stop at city hall.
In about five years, the elongated buses should be a common sight, quickly transporting commuters the 10 miles between downtown and Hartford's Union Station.
The state Department of Transportation projects the Hartford-New Britain busway journey will take anywhere from 14 to 17 minutes along both active and inactive railroad right-of-ways.
Busway construction along the rail corridor is expected to begin next year.
Corbin Avenue resident Nathaniel Brickhouse was impressed with his glimpse of the $458.7 million busway project, an environmentally friendly initiative aimed at battling traffic congestion.
Brickhouse, a 45-year-old who prefers commuting by bus, thinks the busway will grow in popularity as people realize it's an inexpensive, quick and convenient way to travel back and forth to Hartford.
"It's very nice," Brickhouse said after touring the $825,000 North American Bus Industries demonstration vehicle, designed to seat about 63 and provide standing room for another 30-plus.
"I'm not driving right now," said Brickhouse, who is searching for a job. "I go here. I go there. Buses are my transportation right now."
The busway, the first in Connecticut, is projected to begin operating regularly in 2012 with 11 stops between New Britain, Newington, West Hartford and Hartford. Express service is also planned.
State Sen. Donald J. DeFronzo, D-New Britain, a co-chairman of the General Assembly's transportation committee, said the key will be persuading commuters to leave their vehicles home and hop on the bus.
DeFronzo, who saw the bus during an earlier stop at the state Capitol, said it appeared quite comfortable for such a large and long vehicle.
DeFronzo said he and city officials intend to spur commercial and retail economic development and housing along the route.
Mayor Timothy T. Stewart is also bullish on the busway project, but he too realizes persuading city residents to commute by bus will take time and hard work.
"It's a question of educating people that mass transportation is a viable option," Stewart said. "We are in a selfish society in America. Everybody wants their own vehicle. This is a chance to work together."
The state's transportation administrator, Mike Sanders, expects busway commuters will reach Hartford and New Britain quicker than if they took a car.
The state Department of Transportation envisions the busway will operate 18 hours daily, from about 6 a.m. until midnight.
Local resident Barbara Yezierski enjoyed a quick spin on the bus.
"This is really cool," the city hall employee said. "It will be a tremendous boon as far as traffic is concerned."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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